Cuban mother, flower entrepreneur: Making $28 a day, on a good day

21 Photos

Yaima Gonzalez Matos, 33, lost her job three years ago. So she joined the ranks of Cuba’s small class of entrepreneurs and became a wholesaler in the island’s new private flower business to support herself and her son, now 11.

On a good day, she earns about $28 after expenses, a little more than the average salary in Cuba.

Every Monday and Thursday at 7 a.m., Gonzalez leaves her home in San Antonio de los Banos, a town outside Havana, to visit a dozen farmers who sell her sunflowers, orchids, lilies and other blooms. She loads the flowers into a 1957 Buick and begins her deliveries to customers in the capital. She pays her driver about $20 a day including gas.

But the smallest mishap – broken down car, stolen cell phone, or even bad weather – can push her balance sheet into the red for weeks.

Reporting by Ramon Espinosa, Associated Press